Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Greening of Panama

I’ve written quite a bit, with videos, about the rainy season in Panama. The “dry” season in Panama runs roughly from the end of November through April and does not lend itself to good video opportunities. Sort of on a par with taking an action picture of a rock.

It’s hard to say if this has been a typical dry season or not since I haven’t lived here long enough to have developed a meteorological memory bank. The river that runs past the house has been little more than a winding rock pile for months.

We’ve been  several months without a drop of rain. Full-blown drought conditions. Diary farmers in the district of Macaracas are experiencing serious difficulties. This dry season has resulted in a 25% decline in production. The most critical areas are the districts of El Cedro and Corozal, where 80% of surface water sources have dried up and the grass is low. Serious, large-scale brush fires have been reported throughout the country as a result of the tinder-dry conditions.

When I’d leave the house to go catch a bus into David I’d crunch across the straw-colored front yard. Here and there were tiny tufts of green but easily 90% was as dry as dust. But the yards around here aren’t sodded plots. They’re covered by indigenous plant life. Stuff that has survived these conditions for millennia. So not everything is brown.

The trees have remained green, but look at the ground beneath them. (Sorry, the color of the pictures is horrible. I think I damaged my still camera when I was documenting the final sunrises in Potrerillos Arriba and I’m now using my video camera’s still photo mode.)

April is fast approaching and the weather pattern here in Chiriquí Province has been changing. It started about a month ago. I woke up one morning to find it raining quite hard and it continued into the early afternoon. This was unusual because during the rainy season the wet stuff generally comes in the middle of the afternoon. It’s rare to find it raining in the mornings. But that was just a tease. We didn’t get any more rain for days afterwards. Clouds would build up in the afternoon and it looked like it was about to rain but nothing came of it. Then it started last Thursday and we’ve had rain every afternoon since then. Right now it’s quite gloomy and I can hear thunder from all points of the compass.

The newly arrived rains haven’t changed the river yet as you can see from the photo above. The ground’s too dry for that. La tierra is thirsty and drinking up the rain as it falls. In a couple of months, when the ground is thouroughly saturated it will run off and the rivers will rise again.

The rain, though, has had a profound effect on the grasses. With just a couple of successive days of rain green patches are springing up where it had been brown.

There are four treelings? Treelets? Saplings? in the back yard. I watered them nearly every day, but one seems to have succumbed.

I have no idea what kind of a tree it is supposed to be. The leaves seem to be that of a mango. But the mangoes in the neighborhood are thriving and loaded with an abundance of green fruits now. I’ve not given up hope. The leaves, while they are a dreadful brown, have remained supple and pliant. Hopefully it’s simply resting and not like this…

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It’s Nice To Be Quoted

As a blogger, one of the things I do is follow other people’s blogs. And I make comments on their posts as the spirit moves, as people do here. Naturally I have a morning routine with my coffee of reading the latest news and then checking out my favorite blogs. One of the more thought provoking, and well-written, blogs is: Each post is finely crafted and as the subtitle says, her work is “A Writer’s On-Going Search For Just The Right Word.” It’s obvious that she spends considerable time to achieve that goal. Which leaves me scratching my head as to why she follows my collection of, essentially, first drafts. But she does, and she’s left more comments than anyone else. Two hundred and eighty six of them to my 504 posts. Thanks, Linda. And while she obviously follows my trash I’ve never figured out why I’ve never made her “blog roll.”

Naturally there are a number of Panama blogs I compulsively follow. My friend Omar chronicles Panama City with his photographer’s eye…. Omar is Panamanian but his use of the English language is practically flawless. If I were to spend the next 50 years here I’d never come close to matching his fluency with his language as he has done with mine. Omar logs in at #2 for leaving comments here though he lags Linda by some 216. But perhaps that’s because Omar and I frequently email each other.

To keep up with things going on here around David it’s essential to check out Don Ray’s

And then there’s Richard Detrich’s contribution… He lives up in the hills above Boquete where he has a coffee plantation he maintains when he’s not off traipsing around the world as a port lecturer on cruise ships. He’s written a couple of books, and one would be of special interest to anyone considering a move to Panama…

Richard’s posts are often thought-provoking and inspire me to leave a comment now and then. Today, reading his latest contribution, I find that he’s incorporated one of my comments on a previous post to emphasize today’s subject. It’s nice being quoted.




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Happy St. Patrick’s Day

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A Colorful Collection of Houseboat Photos

I stumbled across this wonderful, colorful collection of houseboat photos today and wanted to share them with you…

This is just one of 37.

See the rest here:

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Twenty Percent of Nothing

As I’ve mentioned, I love my Kindle. Currently I have 120 “books” waiting to be read. Well, 119 because I’m reading one of them now. I can’t tell you how many I’ve already read but I go through two or three a week.

Almost all of the books I’ve downloaded have been free. If you go to the Kindle site you’ll find a list of the 100 Best Sellers on Kindle. The hundred best that can run from 99¢ to $12.99 for the latest Jonathan Kellerman and John Grisham offerings. Sorry, but I’m not going to pay $12.99 for any of their books even if they were in the dead tree format.

One of the big rips going around in the literary field is that with the advent of such services as Smashwords and Kindle Direct Publishing making it possible for anybody to “publish” is that the markets are being flooded with crap that’s not worth reading. Well, that’s certainly true to some extent, but there’s a lot of crap that’s being foisted upon the reading public by the established publishing houses, too. And most of it is horribly overpriced.

The majority of the free books on the Kindle Best Seller list come from independent and first-time authors, though I’ve found quite a few mid-list writers whose books are offered for free and have enjoyed them. I’m a sucker for mysteries and have enjoyed Paul Levine’s Jake Lassiter series having read four so far, as well as H. Terrel Griffin’s Matt Royal series. Both authors books are based in Florida where I lived for nearly half of my life. But I’ve also found some wonderful first-timers, too. Bubba and the Dead Woman by C.L. Blevill and Charlotte Figg Takes Over Paradise by Joyce Magnin were two of many.

I check out the Best Sellers list every morning since a lot of the books only stay there for a day or two and if you don’t download them when you see them they’ll be gone and if you weren’t fast enough downloading them you’d have to pay. That’s why there’s a 120 books in my active list. The one thing about these free books is that if they don’t capture me in the first couple of chapters I can toss them and I’ve lost nothing but an hour or two.

This morning, coming in at #23 is, Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out by Pandora Poikilos.

The title intrigued me so I clicked on it to find out what it was about. This is the product description:

“Anya Michaels is having the time of her life. She has the man of her dreams by her side. She has graduated at the top of her class. She has the job others were lining up for. Between late night drinks at her favourite bar and fancy dinners at the most expensive restaurants, she has a string of adoring friends. Everything changes when she hears the dreaded words, “You are sick.”

“Being diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder, her world starts to fall apart, one piece at a time. Now dumped, her four year relationship is nothing but a memory filled with pictures, thoughts and a very broken heart. Her job becomes an even further challenge as she tries to hide her condition. Her friends suddenly have more important things to do, what is a party without a party girl? Perfect could not crumble any faster.

“Soon, caught between situations, people and pieces of life that she never dreamed of planning for herself, Anya begins to wonder if her brain condition is all that bad. As she absorbs the changes in her life and realization sets in, she begins to wonder if she is the only one saying: Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out.”

The book received 12 five-star reviews and 6 single-stars. Thirteen other readers gave it 2, 3 and 4 stars.

What I found really interesting was the last line of the product review: “20% of royalties will be donated to the National Organization of Rare Disorders.” Since it’s a FREE book, 20% of nothing is NOTHING!

Okay, I admit I’m being sarcastic here. These free books only stay free for a couple of days, as I said, and it will soon cost $2.99 to buy it when it’s back on the regular lists. And yes, there IS a National Organization for rare diseases:

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